Recently, my alma mater New Saint Andrew’s college announced that it would be purchasing a property in downtown Moscow, ID. It is affectionately known as the “CJ’s” building (meaning Cadillac Jack’s) and for many years has been a bar and dance hall. NSA made this announcement here.
Lee Rozen, the editor of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, wrote an op-ed piece on the situation, saying, “the specter of theocracy on the Palouse bears resistance.” (Yes, having a private Christian college buy a building causes a ruckus in our town.) Here’s a full text of the piece.
I wrote a response piece to it, which Lee Rozen was kind enough to publish on DNews.com. The full text of the response is below.
Two points emerged from this experience of political engagement as a Christian. I wanted, firstly, to deal with the fact of persecution from unbelievers; and, secondly, the importance of the definition of words.
Jesus guarantees that we will be persecuted. Mark 13:14 says, “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” He does not say “maybe” but “will.” Persecution should be expected for us. Jesus said they would persecute us because they persecuted Him.
Now to the question of definitions: “What counts as persecution?” It is obviously a reasonable question to ask, as someone can claim persecution who is simply being a jerk. But the devil is the father of lies, and those who are deceived by him will rarely simply come out and say they are persecuting Christians for their righteousness. No, they will claim that the Christian is just being a jerk, when he is being nothing of the kind; he is simply speaking the truth.
For this, let’s take a look at Matthew 5:10-11: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Notice what counts as persecution: reviling and uttering all kinds of evil against us falsely. Thus, persecution is not merely torturing or killing us; lying about us is also persecution, according to Jesus.
One of the ways people deceive others is by obscuring moral values and definitions (Is. 5:20). This brings us to the term “theocracy.” This sounds like a scary term, implying some kind of hostile, oppressive takeover of Moscow, but what does it mean? As you’ll see in the article below, we are in a theocracy right now. We are being reviled, and Rozen wants us to be resisted, merely because we are telling the truth about God.
So how should Christians react? 1 Peter 3:15-16 says we should “always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” We should answer unbelievers’ concerns, which involves doing the work of defining terms. The term that Peter uses, apologia, refers to a formal reasoned defense in a court of law, in which one answers charges against oneself; and we must do this with gentleness and respect, so that when we are slandered, unbelievers will be clearly put to shame. God will defend His Truth and vindicate His Saints.
“In an April 29 Our View, Lee Rozen wrote for the Daily News editorial board, ‘Whether braggadocio or not, the specter of theocracy on the Palouse bears resistance.’
What Rozen fails to understand is that whether anyone likes it or not, we live in a theocracy right now, at this very moment.
Jesus was crowned king of kings and Lord of lords. Matthew 28:18 records Jesus saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …”
“All authority” includes every court and legal process in Latah county. Jesus specifically says “All authority … on earth.” So Christ reigns over all things here and now from heaven. Should a “Christian takeover” worry anyone? Not a bit.
The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”
We do not wage our warfare with physical weapons against flesh. What we do is take every thought captive to Christ and persuade others to do that as well, by showing them that by denying God you become vain in your reasonings, Romans 1:21.
We take captive every thought, including every thought concerning economics, music, and education and make it obedient to Christ; and we do this by the persuasion of the gospel. Shouldn’t our religious perspective be tolerated? Shouldn’t we not be discriminated against? Should a newspaper really be calling for active resistance of a particular religion? Having explained that all things are under his authority, Jesus said we should “make disciples of all nations.” Is the Daily News simply worried that we will succeed?”